Advertising can be effective, but like all marketing activities it must be applied in the right way. Big image-building campaigns are for the multinationals that already have an image. And before you put an ad in another guide or newspaper, keep this mantra in mind: If advertising isn’t about making a sale, or achieving a specific goal, then don’t do it.
Your advertising should be about performance. Customers should do something following your advertisement, not just acknowledge it with a nod. That means you must have a system for tracking and measuring the success of a campaign, a compelling message and a clear call to action.
By that, we mean telling your customer exactly what to do. For every marketing piece, whether it’s an ad, the yellow pages or an email, you must ask them to contact you, come to your business, purchase a product, refer someone else to you or act in some way. Otherwise, it’s a waste of marketing money and you’d be better off not doing it.
Make sure to follow these guidelines:
1. Your message must appear in a publication or place that is targeted to your customer profiles. If your restaurant’s main added value is a kid-friendly atmosphere and family menus, then make sure to be present in local day care centers, school newspapers and children’s stores.
2. Your ad must have a strong headline that clearly shows the benefit to the reader. What is the biggest benefit that you can give to your customer? Identify it and then put it in the headline. A benefit answers the question: “What is in it for me?” Pull the customer in by having an ad that is based on the customer’s needs and the benefits you provide. Make them want to stop and read your ad because they can clearly see what is in it for them. You may have a great offer, but if no one stops to read it, the ad certainly won’t be effective. More people read the stories with the most compelling headlines. Headlines such as “A Free Cocktail When You Come On Date Night” or “Kids Eat Half Price on Weekdays” are good examples of clearly stated benefits.
Note that your restaurant name or logo are not good headlines. Be wacky, controversial, funny, state your offer or guarantee—anything that will make people read it. Use strong phrases such as “how to,” “free” and “discover.” Make sure to include “you” in the headline (you do want to talk directly to the person, after all). Don’t hesitate to use different headlines to target various subsets of your target audience. Try creative headlines such as “Guaranteed Marital Bliss (no more fighting over the washing up!)” or “A Successful First Date or Your Money Back!”
3. Have a compelling offer. An offer both makes the reader act and allows you to track whether an ad is successful. The offer should be compelling enough that the reader says to himself “Why wouldn’t I do this? What do I have to lose?” In a word, it needs to be irresistible. A compelling offer may or not be free. You might decide to use recipes, gifts, invitations or time with the chef as a compelling offer instead of giving away something free. If you do decide to use a free offer, then make sure it is indeed compelling. Just because it is free does not necessarily mean that it will be effective. Giving away a glass of wine when a party of two or more comes in to eat may not be a compelling enough offer to drive a customer to act. Two free desserts, on the other hand, might be enough to grab the customer’s attention.
If it is indeed compelling, then put it in the headline. If it’s a free offer, then by all means shout it out. Everyone wants something for free, but just because it is free doesn’t mean it is compelling. It needs to be free and answer a need, providing what the customer perceives as value. Make sure that you clearly state the value in monetary terms. Remember, money talks, so impress the customer with the value. “A free drink” sounds appealing, but a cocktail worth $15 is more meaningful. $15 is, after all, $15. Have the confidence in your establishment to put it all out on the line. The customer will respond.